What Polarization Is Doing To Compound Covid, Crisis, and Culture

Let’s face uncomfortable facts, because we’re in an uncomfortable world

Photo By Benjamin Lazardo

Very Unpopular Strong Opinions Blog Christyl Rivers

Burning desires

We have some issues in the USA right now. And the world.

There is the doomsday clock threat looming of world war three out there now. Maybe some Putin aficionados are rooting for Biden’s complete failure at any cost. A terrifying thought.

The world going up in fast flames, however preferable to the daily slow burns and floods that are allowing people to stay in denial, this doesn’t really comfort that many people.

In fact, it is raising the anxiety level so high people are afraid to walk down a street, board an airplane, or walk into a classroom.

My brother’s creeper

Everything that has become polarizing works against us. If you make vaccines, or masks, a political issue, or you make education about racism a political issue, if you make women having autonomy and control of their own bodies a political issue, if you make something like the price of fuel, or having a hotdog or burger, a political issue, or if you make simply trying to make a living wage a political issue, you are bound to feel stressed.

We tip toe, or creep around, some of these issues. Or, we realize some creeps are making decisions while we demur.

What about public safety, guns, violence, protest, free and fair elections?

My front yard (and yours) is political

What is left that is NOT political?

For me, it’s not lawns. These have become political, because lawns are a sort of privilege, and entitlement, that depends on obsession with conformity.

In my book, with the death of pollinators (insects and birds, primarily) we should be educating people to eschew manicured and chemically poisoned lawns in preference of having wildlife and biodiversity patches. Protecting water supplies. Hearing a songbird. Keeping hope alive.

Your trash is political. I think if you mindlessly use plastic, fast food, fast fashion, or anything that treats our planet as disposable, I am likely politically opposed to your sleeping zombie stance.

On the other hand, I love you. I am not going to preach veganism, or zero-waste, or “canceling” or raise any fuss that I think would tend to make someone pull away from science knowledge. Most of us, not being loudmouths in public interactions and polite company, work hard to avoid polarizing issues.

We are a social species, and we want to gather our groceries without a knife fight.

The anti-woke mob is coming for the woke mob

That said, my failure to wake you is now being actively countered by a movement (more than one, actually) that is ANTI-WOKE.

Yes, in Florida, and in some places like Texas schools, they are ready to cancel “canceling.” They are ready to wake up to wokeness. They are ready to keep “uncomfortable” topics like structural racism, evolution, women’s health, human rights, and environmentalism, out of classroom discussions.

They will speak of these topics for political points, but directly addressing the issues themselves is avoided. Public fear and division is the result.

But, we can’t avoid discomfort anymore than we can avoid the truth that our present systems are unsustainable.

Destroying our planet, knowing about the truthful suffering and dying that happened this afternoon due to climate crisis, for example, is uncomfortable.

What else is uncomfortable? Everything listed above.

We are fighting over finding an adequate pandemic response, gun violence, teachers, billionaires, nurses, electric vehicles, service jobs, child care, voting, flight attendants, wage insecurity, inflation, and so, so much more.

At risk of you feeling even more uncomfortable, I have no comforting answers. What I do know is that we are better and best when collaborating, agreeing to disagree, realizing ours is the species that launched the JWST, (Jay Dub telescope) 1.5 million miles from Earth.

To do great things, or even to do adequate things, we have to be courageous enough to be uncomfortable. We have to allow ourselves to be awkward, and unsure.

Let’s make an effort to speak up without speaking against

Just remember that being uncomfortable does not mean you have to be confrontational.

We don’t have to dismiss that we are at times, fragile. We need to embrace it.

Pretending that race or gender, for example, is too fragile for us to discuss, is ridiculous.

In psychology, and sociology, it is a well-known fact that no progress is made without vulnerability. It creates trust. It bonds alliances.

Our whole world, our whole authoritarian autocracy versus out-of-control capitalism democracy, is in total free fall. We are neither seeing real socialism in the world succeeding any more than we are seeing neo-liberalism succeeding.

Even the greatest success stories in socialism, and democracy, like Norway and Sweden, are having issues with fossil fuel dependency and healthcare crisis. Why?

It’s because no nation is an island. Even Tonga, a literal set of islands, is connected to the all the rest of us. Make them dependent on satellites, and they can’t reach some rescues effectively. Wash tsunami waves into oil in Peru, and tragedy. (And again, do we really want to fuel our world with toxins?)

We have to become more comfortable at realizing we are all in this together, and burning it down or blowing it all apart is probably the worst option we have. We all should be really uncomfortable with that.

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Christyl Rivers, Phd.

Christyl Rivers, Phd.

Ecopsychologist, Writer, Farmer, Defender of reality, and Cat Castle Custodian.